Monthly Archives: February 2013

(Occasional) Daily Tips for Living Small ~ ODTLS#1

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This was going to be Living Small Tips of the Day, but that sounded like an odd STD, so I revised it … and, knowing me, it will probably not be “daily”!

This is a bowl of eggshells:

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So, why would I care about a big bowl of eggshells?

1.  Most of us eat eggs.

2.  It is an easy adjustment to not throw the shells in the garbage.

She said what?  Don’t throw them away???

This bowl is an accumulation of about 4 dozen shells, collected over 2 weeks or so.  (good grief, we ate 16 for dinner last night …)  It is one of my biggest annoyances to send biodegradable stuff to a landfill.  Eggshells, in particular, are extremely nutritious for our environment.  Did you know that chickens can and should eat eggshells to increase their calcium to produce better eggs?  Google it.

http://www.backyardchickens.com is a great resource if you want to keep chickens in your backyard …

… which I highly recommend.

… But I digress …

OK, so what do I suggest you do with your eggshells?

Trust me, they will NOT smell or attract bugs while they dry out.  Even in my tiny RV, I can spare a little counter space for a bowl or some other vessel to hold the shells.  They need a little breathing room, so try not to stack the halves inside of each other.  After a few days – (or less, if you choose to put the bowl on the hood of your car in the sun for an afternoon or two) – they will be dry enough to pound into tiny pieces.  This activity is an excellent way to work out your frustrations.  Kids love to do it, too.  No fancy tools required:  just use the bottom of a glass, or a jar, or a wooden spoon to pulverize them.  (a mortar and pestle will work better than plastic, but i said “no fancy tools”)  Try to get the pieces as much like powder as possible.

When they are not identifiable as eggshells, you can spread them in ANY flower bed or potted plant without anyone knowing what you are doing!  If you have a worm bin, this is excellent food for them.

**And as a bonus lesson, pay attention to where your eggs come from.  Did you know that “cage-free” isn’t necessarily a good thing?  Farmers can cram thousands of chickens in a barn, where they never see light of day – but they aren’t in CAGES.  Many still use antibiotics and most trim the beaks … and I won’t even tell you how short their lives are …  Start in your backyard, or at least your community.  Yes, they are probably more expensive, but they are BETTER!

Hooray!  Look what you learned on the internet today!!

Love, from your hippie friend,

–janis

We have arrived

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We are in Houston for a while now … I will add photos and stuff about our trip in a few days.  We are still debating which park we will stay at:  either Bear Creek or Pearland.  I think the internet options in Pearland will be the determining factor, but for a few days, at least, we are in Bear Creek.

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Oregon to Texas, February 2013

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HarveyTwo has brought us back to Texas!  It was a long trip, with lots of interesting detours.  Phil has returned to work, which is hard for us all, but it is necessary.  I am having trouble thinking of Houston as “home”, but it is familiar and warmer … I hope to have the kids write about some of their impressions next week, when “school” resumes. More pictures can be seen at SmugMug

February 10:  After a long day of last-minute preparations, a last-lunch from Burgerville, and lots of rearranging, we finally pulled out of Sandy Riverfront RV Park in Troutdale, which we had called home since June 2012.  We drove to Eugene, Oregon, where we spent the night.

feb11sunset2February 11: Lunch for the road was fresh-fruit-salad-in-a-jar.  We drove west to Highway 101, where we had breathtaking views of the coast.  We stopped at Turtle Rock, Oregon, where we stayed for two nights in a nice RV park on the coast.

February 12: We learned about “sneakers” and “seastacks” and played horseshoes.  We all got wet feet when the sneakers snuck up on us while we walked on the beach, but Molly actually fell in a wave!  It was COLD, but we mustered the courage to keep walking and admiring the views.  The park hosted a Mardi Gras party, which seems really ironic to us Texans.  They ruined the gumbo, though, with the addition of critters we don’t eat, so the kids only got to eat dessert!

February 13: We said farewell to Oregon.  Weeks of angst about crossing the California border were dismissed instantly when we crossed without even stopping.  (I was worried about what they might think of our worm-bin.)

feb13redwoods3We stopped at a Ranger Station in Crescent City, where we got quick advice about how to see the most while towing a big trailer.  We drove out to the beach in Crescent City for more spectacular seastacks and found the local hangout for sea lions before heading further south for the Redwood National Forest.  When we got our first views of the Giant Redwoods, I was impressed.  They are truly as awe-inspiring as I had hoped, and our monster truck was indeed dwarfed by the trees.  The forest is wet and quiet and just “feels” ancient.

February 14:  We drove to Eureka for the afternoon to meet up with an online friend of mine.  The kids got to run around a great playground for feb15hikedownawhile, which was definitely good for them.

Feberuary 15:  We decided to go for a walk before we left.  It was a LOT further than we anticipated, but it was fun – at least for the grownups.  We walked to what we thought was a “beach access”, but it was only a scenic overlook.  The cliff was steep, but a trail taunted us, so we investigated.  When we got to the bottom of the hundreds of steps, we found a rather primitive “ladder” that seemed to have been beaten by the tides into a very unstable position.  After lots of complaining that it was “not fair”, we finally convinced the kids that we had to return to the top without going all the way down to the tidal pools.  (I did test out the ladder, and it was just a little too unsteady to attempt with the kids.  Maybe 20 years ago, but not today.)  That night, we stayed at an RV park that was at the top of a hill – a dark, twisty, narrow road led us there.  If we hadn’t been so tired, it would have been a good place to explore.

February 16: We drove south through beautiful places and across the Golden Gate Bridge.

feb17February 17:  Bare feet and sandals! We arrived at Orangeland to find ripe oranges and grapefruit on the trees.  What a difference from Portland, in only seven days.

February 18:  Annie was responsible for finding something new to do in Los Angeles.  All she wanted to do was go to Hollywood – again – which really didn’t appeal to me, but this was a long trip anyway, so we needed to do something the kids wanted to do.  She found a historical ship, the Queen Mary, for us to visit.  It took us about two hours to get there, due to an unfortunate accident of BOTH parents forgetting their wallets.

feb18submarine2We did finally get to see the ship, including its gigantic engines and propellors and fascinating history as both a cruise ship and a military transport.  Adjacent to the ship is a Russian submarine, that we toured, as well – Molly left her puppy Ruby by the periscope, causing another MAJOR drama for the day.

February 19:  Happy Birthday to Molly!!  We celebrated with a trip to Hollywood Boulevard, where she was serenaded by a girl-band recording a music video.  We went to the Guinness World Record Museum, which was hokey but amusing.  Part of the Boulevard was closed, preparing for the Oscar ceremony (“not fair” that we were there on the wrong day).  We finished the day at a very enjoyable ramen restaurant in Los Angeles – Orochon.

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February 20:  We drove east through fields of windmills.

February 21:  Arizona

February 22:  We arrived in Las Cruces, New Mexico and were greeted by a centipede.  For the next three days, Zoe was petrified to walk outside the RV, for fear of the “spiky thing.”  Our RV park was down the road from the dealership where we found HarveyTwo, 10 months ago.

23febsand1February 23:  At last, we reached White Sands, a destination that had intrigued me since our return from Calgary, in the fall of 2011.  We watched the movie in the Ranger Station and bought the obligatory sleds before driving to the dunes.  Again, my breath was taken away by the splendor of nature.  We climbed the hills of cold sand, under the perfect blue sky.  Molly and Zoe had the most fun with the sleds, but they preferred just rolling down the hills.  Annie, Phil and I each tried it, but it was anticlimactic.  We took dozens of photos, which we will put online soon.  We chatted with some horse-riders, who had been riding in the sands all day long.  I have never seen such sweaty tired horses!  As the sun set over the mountains, even Annie didn’t want to leave.

February 24:  Weather kept us in Las Cruces for one more day.  Windstorms were just not a thing we wanted to endure with our trailer.  We spent a couple hours hunting for Geocaches instead and relaxed.  If you have never heard of Geocaching, it is like a treasure hunt, following clues and GPS coordinates that are posted on a website.  We found four, and we rather enjoyed ourselves.

feb25welcomeFebruary 25:  We entered Texas!  A long way, still, from Houston …

February 26:  We arrived in Kerrville and visited with Aunt Linda for a little while.  It was a momentous day:  Happy Anniversary to my parents, and Happy Birthday to Nana!

February 27:  Katy, Texas!  (I’m still not sure how we crossed Texas in only two days.)

The cat is stuck in the wall.

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This is possibly the weirdest thing that has happened to us on the road so far.

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Feberuary 4, 2013

About a week before we were planning to leave Oregon, I was being my usual self, trying to improve our RV, removing superfluous pieces of wood and hardware and replacing them with lighter weight more functional solutions.  So, I removed the drawer under our washing machine.  I had removed the cabinet doors within a day of having the machine installed.  Who wants 10 pounds of wood that you have to open and close daily?  The drawer had become a nuisance, and when I looked behind it, I was stunned by the volume of space …

It seemed like a harmless thing to do.  Rabbits can’t do any damage back there.

Our kitty, Meme, however, decided to explore for the first time.  I don’t recall exactly the chain of events, but suddenly we noticed she was not in her normal places, and I was POSITIVE she had not gotten out through the door.  I looked inside and underneath every single cabinet and nook.  We walked around the RV pounding on the sides and listening for meows.  Silence.

IMG_7707When Phil got home from work, we removed the washing machine.  We couldn’t figure out any possible way she would be back there, but it was the only idea we had left.  Although I was sure this was the only possible place left in the RV that she might have gone, it seemed highly unlikely.

But there doesn’t seem to be any “rational” explanation for where she is~!  There is a small opening, but why would she go there?  So, we put the washer back and keep wondering.

At about 10:00, after everyone has gone to sleep, Phil hears distant meowing … in the ceiling.  He is convinced he is imagining it.  I agree.  We sit in the dark and listen … there it is again!

I don’t remember anymore what exactly happened next.  We couldn’t believe she was behind the washing machine.  This is not a cat who explores!  Then the meowing sounded like it was in the ceiling, and we imagined ourselves having to cut a hole in the ceiling.  We also imagined the worst:  what if she was injured.

I am pretty sure we took the washing machine out AGAIN.  I took a lot of pictures to try to visualize what was there since we couldn’t actually SEE.  It was a large empty space with insulation and nothing for a cat to climb on.

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And then, we chopped a hole in the wall above the washer.  A true hatchet job.  Once we made the hole, we could see a little more, but we still had no idea how to get Meme out.  We decided our only choice was to put a light and a can of smelly cat food and wait.  By the way, all the kids were still asleep, even Zoe, who was in our bed, right next to all this action.

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I’m not sure how long it took, but she finally came close enough to the hole, and I was able to pull her out.  She was fine.  Time for bed.

IMG_7714 And this is my clever wall repair.  🙂